7:1. “Now after these things, in the reign of
Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the
son, of Hilkiah.”
There is a time gap of about 58 years between chapters 6 and 7, what is
written here being the record of the second return, in 458 B.C., of the Jews
who had been exiled to Babylon. The book of Esther records some of the events
which occurred in those 58 years.
Assyria, meaning a step, had at that time been brought under the
dominion of Persia, but is mentioned here, it is generally believed, because
of its having been once one of Israel’s most oppressive foes. Relative to
restored and obedient Israel, Assyria’s fall is the reminder that “When a
man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with
him,” Proverbs 16:7.
“... to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of
Israel.” God’s purpose in this was to enable them to build His earthly house,
the Temple. He has strengthened our hands by equipping each believer with a
spiritual gift, so that we too might do His work, both in His house the
Church, and also in the world by preaching the Gospel.
Incidentally, Scripture makes it clear that each believer is endowed with but
one spiritual gift, see 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 where the endowment
is “gift” singular, not “gifts” plural. Only the Apostles were endued with
multiple spiritual gifts.
Its being emphasized that He was “the God of Israel” is to teach us that only
those who obey Him can know Him as the God Who blesses. All others, i.e.,
unbelievers, the disobedient, know Him not; but in the torment of hell and the
lake of fire, they will learn that He is the God Who “is of purer eyes than to
behold evil, and (Who) canst not look on iniquity,” Habakkuk 1:13, and Who
will punish the unrepentant evildoer.
For the convenience of the reader, the meaning of each name listed in verses
2-5 follows it in italics.
7:2. “The son of Shallum requital:
restitution, the son of Zadok to justify, the son of Ahitub
brother of goodness,”
7:3. “The son of Amariah the saying of
Jehovah, the son of Azariah helped of Jah (Jehovah), the son of
7:4. “The son of Zerahiah the rising of Jah,
the son of Uzzi my strength, the son of Bukki emptied out,”
7:5. “The son of Abishua father of salvation,
or of riches, the son of Phinehas mouth of pity, the son of Eleazar
God is helper, the son of Aaron light-bringer the chief priest:”
There would unquestionably be spiritual profit in examining the meanings of
all these names, but since such a study would take us beyond the parameters of
this commentary, we will omit it, and leave the reader to pursue that study
for himself. This list, incidentally, is not all-inclusive: some generations
The genealogical line ends with Ezra, meaning help, the author of this
7:6. “This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was
a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given:
and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord
his God upon him.”
His being a “ready” scribe means that he was skilled, diligent in the study of
Scripture, something God would have all of us to be, as it is written not only
to Timothy, but to all of us, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a
workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2
He Who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, will give in even greater measure
to every obedient believer, for such a man will ask, not for temporal, but
spiritual enrichment, so that Christ may be glorified; as it is written again,
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall
be opened unto you,” Matthew 7:7; the further assurance being given that He,
“is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Ephesians
“... Ezra went up from Babylon,” adds further instruction, for Babylon
represents the world’s false religious systems, particularly that of apostate
Christendom. We too have come “up from Babylon,” for prior to conversion,
every one of us was involved in some degree with what Babylon represents.
“... according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.” Since God’s hand
may be upon a man either in blessing or chastisement, it behooves us to walk
before Him in obedience, so that His hand may be upon us in blessing.
7:7. “And there went up some of the children of
Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters,
and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, the
The fact that only “some” of the children of Israel, went up from Babylon, is
the reminder that the majority of true believers, even today, are content to
remain in a religious system governed by clericalism, which is anathema to
God, His loathing of it being twice repeated in the words of condemnation
pronounced against both its deeds and its doctrine, “which thing I hate,” see
Rev 2:6,15. There is evil significance attached to the fact that six groups
left Babylon: Israelites, priests, Levites, singers, porters, and the
Nethinims, for six is the scriptural number of man, weakness, and sin, coming
as it does just short of seven, the number of perfection and completeness.
The Nethinims were Temple servants, and are generally believed to have been
descended from the Gibeonites mentioned in Joshua 9.
7:8. “And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth
month, which was in the seventh year of the king.”
Inasmuch as Jerusalem is synonymous with peace, the meaning of the name being
dual peace shall be taught: lay or set ye double peace, their coming to
it is the symbolic announcement of the fact that he who obeys God walks in the
enjoyment of His peace “which passeth all understanding,” Philippians 4:7.
Five is the number of responsibility, so that their coming to Jerusalem
in the fifth month reminds us that we are responsible to obey God if we would
enjoy the peace of which Jerusalem speaks.
Since seven is the number of perfection and completeness, their coming
also in “the seventh year of the king” speaks of the perfection of the
believer’s redeemed state as a result of the true “King’s” vicarious death and
7:9. “For upon the first day of the first month
began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came
he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.”
The journey from Babylon to Jerusalem took four (the number of testing)
months; and no spiritual mind will have difficulty seeing in that four-month
journey a type of the journey of life from the moment of conversion till
arrival in heaven, for that time period is also one of testing, in which,
sadly, we all too often fail.
We rob ourselves of much, however, if we fail to recognize that Jerusalem is
also a type of the peace into which we may enter here and now, a peace from
which only disobedience can exclude us. Relative to that peace which God
wants every believer to enjoy now, the Lord Himself has given His assurance,
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” John 14:27.
His coming to Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month is also
instructive, for five is the number of responsibility, and the lesson
to be learnt from this section is that the peace which Jerusalem represents is
inseparable from our responsibility to walk before God in obedience.
God’s hand being upon him is the symbolic reminder that God’s hand is upon
every believer; and its being described as “the good hand” continues to
remind us that every circumstance of life, including seeming adversity, is
designed for our ultimate good, and eternal blessing.
7:10. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek
the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and
Ezra’s having “prepared his heart” means that he had resolved to devote
himself to the study of God’s Word; and his determination “to do it” assures
us that he would permit nothing to hinder that Word from controlling his life;
while his teaching Israel, tells us of his equally strong resolve to pass on
to others what he himself learned from his study of Scripture, passing on to
them its rules and regulations, and emphasizing the imperative of obedience as
the prerequisite of blessing.
Our spiritual state would be much healthier if we were to make the same
commitment to the study and obedience of Scripture, and were faithful in
passing on to other believers that same knowledge, so that they too might
enjoy more abundant blessing.
7:11. “Now this is the copy of the letter that
the king, Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of
the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel.”
Verse 12 begins the record of what was written in the letter which Artaxerxes
gave to Ezra, who was not only a priest, but also a scribe, i.e., one who knew
and taught what was written in Scripture, and unlike many of Israel’s scribes,
he was one who obeyed what was written, so that he was an example to those he
taught. We too ought to walk in his footsteps.
7:12. “Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the
priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a
The description “king of kings” declares that Aratxerxes, king of Persia, was
well aware of his own importance and power; but his describing Jehovah as “the
God of heaven” makes it equally clear that he acknowledged Him as supreme
among the gods worshiped by the nations, though, as noted already, it does not
imply that he himself was a believer.
The “... perfect peace” he wished Ezra was just a polite form of greeting, and
“at such a time” was the equivalent of out etcetra, i.e., “perfect peace” and
other good wishes.
7:13. “I make a decree, that all they of the
people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are
minded of their own free-will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.”
A further expression of his goodwill was this decree permitting all the Jews
who wished, to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem with Ezra.
7:14. “Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king,
and of his seven counselors (advisors), to enquire concerning Judah and
Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand:”
“... the law” mentioned here referred to the OT Scriptures which were in
7:15. “And to carry the silver and gold, which
the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose
habitation is in Jerusalem,”
The silver and gold were the treasures which Nebuchadnezzar had looted from
the Temple during his incursion against Israel seventy years earlier. All of
these vessels Artaxerxes now freely returned.
7:16. “And all the silver and gold that thou
canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the
people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God,
which is in Jerusalem;”
In addition to returning all the valuables that had been plundered, Artaxerxes
commanded that whatever other silver and gold were given for the rebuilding of
the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews were to be permitted to carry away all of it
7:17. “That thou mayest buy speedily with this
money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink
oferings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in
This abundant provision for the worship of Jehovah by His returning people
seems to indicate that Artaxerxes was more than anxious to have the God of the
Jews look upon him with favor, and it is to be suspected that the giving of
many today is prompted by the same motive.
7:18. “And whatsoever shall seem good to thee,
and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and gold, that do after
the will of your God.”
His generosity went beyond providing for the worship of Jehovah. Whatever
surplus there might be was to be used as they, the Jews, should be directed by
7:19. “The vessels also that are given thee for
the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of
All the vessels used in connection with the worship of Jehovah were to be set
in their proper places in the Temple about to be built.
7:20. “And whatever more shall be needful for
the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out
of the king’s treasure house.”
Anything needed beyond what was being freely returned, the king would gladly
give out of his own treasure house, and unquestionably it was God Who had
implanted this magnanimous spirit in the heart of Artaxerxes, reminding us
that if God be for us, none can be against us, and reminding us further that
He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,”
7:21. “And I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, do
make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river (Euphrates),
that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of Heaven,
shall require of you, it be done speedily,”
This was beyond anything the returning Jews could have imagined, and inasmuch
as their departure from Babylon to Canaan may be the typological picture of
our departure from this present evil world into our eternal home in heaven,
the wealth taken with them may point to the eternal riches that will accompany
our entrance into heaven, as it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared
for those who love Him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9.
7:22. “Unto a hundred talents of silver, and to
an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an
hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.”
Magnanimous as was Artaxerxes’ giving, it had nevertheless a limit, for only
God’s resources are infinite.
The hundred talents of silver was about 3¾ tons; the hundred measures of
wheat, approximately 600 bushels; the hundred baths of wine, about 600
gallons; and the hundred baths of oil, about 600 gallons. Since the quantity
of salt needed in connection with the offerings was relatively small, the
amount wasn’t specified.
7:23. “Whatsoever is commanded by the God of
heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why
should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?”
This continues to indicate that Aratxerxes’ fear was prompted, not by a proper
knowledge of God, but because as a superstitious idolator he dreaded the anger
of this One Whom he regarded as the chief of all the gods.
7:24. “Also we inform you, that touching any of
the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this
house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom. upon
Those listed embraced every individual who would minister in any capacity in
the service of the Temple, and indicates that the king feared not only the God
of heaven, but also those who served Him in connection with the Temple
worship. All such persons Artaxerxes absolved from obligation to pay taxes.
7:25. “And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy
God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all
the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God;
and teach ye them that know them not.”
“... the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand,” is generally believed to
have had reference to the Jewish Scriptures, i.e., the books (scrolls) of the
OT that had been completed at that time. The appointment of Jewish
magistrates and judges continues to disclose the wide extent of the autonomy
which the Jews were permitted to enjoy under Artaxerxes. His command that all
Jews be taught God’s law, makes it clear that the king had no intention of
abolishing Jewish law in favor of the Babylonian system.
7:26. “And whosoever will not do the law of thy
God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him,
whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to
His reverence for Jehovah is further attested by his command that swift
judgment was to be meted out to the person who refused to obey God’s law, or
that which he himself had promulgated.
7:27. “Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers,
which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house
of the Lord, which is in Jerusalem:”
7:28. “And hath extended mercy unto me before
the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And
I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord, my God was upon me and I gathered
together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.”
Ezra gratefully acknowledged Jehovah as the One who had put it into the heart
of Artaxerxes and his counsellors and princes to be well disposed toward the
building of the Temple, and he thanked Him for the encouragement he himself
had derived from His activity on behalf of His people. Thus encouraged, he
gathered together a group of Jewish leaders to go up with him to Jerusalem.
Ezra’s recognition of God as the One Who worked unseen to further the
enterprize he and the others had undertaken, rebukes our frequent failures to
discern the same Divine hand working invisibly to order circumstances for our
blessing. Honesty must surely also compel us to confess failure to return Him
even when it is clear that He has worked all things together for our